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SAO Exchange: Universidad San Francisco de Quito
Quito, Ecuador (Exchange Program)
Program Terms: Academic Year,
Fall Semester,
Spring Semester,
Homepage: Click to visit
Program Dates & Deadlines: Click here to view
Budget Sheets Academic Year,
Fall Semester,
Spring Semester
Fact Sheet:
 Language of Instruction:
 Language Requirement:
Host Family
 Non-Illinois Student Options:
All non-Illinois students
 Illinois Sponsor:
Study Abroad Office (campus-wide)
 Credit or Not for Credit:
For credit
Program Description:
- An Illinois Center for Global Learning and Engagement

Program Overview

The University of Illinois SAO believes in offering students the opportunity to live, explore and develop through cultural immersion while benefiting from sound an academic program and superior student services. We have created a one-of-a-kind semester or year program in Ecuador that offers an integrated academic and social environment and the support and encouragement of a knowledgeable, experienced program staff.

Quick Links

Program Specific Information
General Study Abroad Information

Watch the Study Abroad First Steps Video Series or attend a First Steps Info Session

When you begin thinking about studying abroad, it’s important that you review all of your resources to help you make informed decisions. What kind of housing would you like? How long would you like to go for? What region of the world is tempting you? What kind of on-site support will you need? All this and more can be found by following steps 1-4 on the Getting Started Link to make sure Universidad San Francisco de Quito is the right program for you! 

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What is an Illinois Center?

Located in various countries around the world, Illinois Centers for Global Learning and Engagement represent the premier sites for study abroad developed by the University of Illinois over the past forty years. At each Center, you encounter a personalized and guided learning experience introducing you to new languages, cultures, and academic areas. To learn more about Illinois Centers, click here


The City of Quito

Ecuador is a country of contrasts. It offers a lively mix of modernity and tradition. The historic mixtures of peoples and cultures make it an interesting and rewarding study site for students in a variety of fields. Taking its name from the fact that it straddles the equator, Ecuador is an extremely diverse nation, both in geography and culture. In addition to its three distinct mainland zones, the Coast, Andean Sierra, and Amazonian Oriente, the Galapagos Islands also belong to this fascinating country. Its amazing geographical diversity and beauty - from the remote coastal beaches and coffee and banana plantations, to the mountains and snow-capped volcanoes of the Andean Sierra, to the rain forests of the Upper Amazon basin - make Ecuador a wonderful country to explore.

Your home will be the capital city of Quito, nestled in the slopes of Andes mountain range, just south of the equator. Known as the "Window of the Andes" and the "City of Eternal Spring," Quito is one of the three most ancient pre-Colombian capitals in Latin America. You find handsome colonial buildings and cathedrals atop ancient architectural sites in the Historic Center, and beautiful, ultramodern edifices in the northern part of the city. On a clear day in Quito, you will see the majestic snow-capped mountains to the north, south and east of the city.

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Academic Environment

Where you will study

Students on the Ecuador Program enroll at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ). This university has a distinct personality; it is a unique blend of a peaceful location, excellent academic opportunities and a motivated student population.

USFQ building usfq galileo USFQ classroom

Through the Ecuador exchange program you will enroll direcly into the Universidad San Francisco de Quito. This allows you to take nearly any class available at the university. Depending on the course, you may be with all international students, a mix of international and Ecuadorian, or all Ecuadorian students. The majority of these classes will be taught completely in Spanish. Below are a sample of disciplines available at USFQ:

Agriculture, Anthropology, Architecture, Art, Biology, Cinema and Television, Communication/Media, Ecology, Economics/Businesses, Engineering, Food Sciences, Health/Medicine, History, Spanish, Languages, Law, Music, Physical Education, Psychology, Sociology, Veterinary Science, Women's Studies, Accounting, Chemistry, Computer Science, Education, Graphic Design, Hospitality, Human Resources, Marketing, Mathematics, Natural Resources, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Tourism.

For a full listing of courses, click on the following link.

Note: As a study abroad participant through a University of Illinois approved program, once you are accepted to the program, you will be required to go through a Course Approval Process. During this process, the courses you plan on taking abroad will be evaluated by a 299 Advisor for Illinois credit (the credit can then be used to fulfill major, minor, general education, or elective credit, depending on the approval of the advisor). Details about this process will be provided once you are accepted to a program.

Class size
USFQ is a small, private liberal arts school of about 4500 undergraduates, of which 1000 are international students mostly from the U.S.  Class sizes vary, but most are small lecture-discussions of about 15-30 students that meet 2-3 times per week.  

Students should note that USFQ's online course system lists courses as 1 credit hour more than their UIUC course equivalents.  For example, a class that shows as 4 credit hours at USFQ will only come back as 3 credit hours at UIUC, and a class that shows as 3 credit hours at USFQ will only come back as 2 credit hours at UIUC.  Students with credit-hour requirements for financial aid or scholarships should keep this in mind when planning their schedules.

Courses as USFQ are primarily taught in Spanish.  Courses in English are available, along with courses to learn other languages such as Quichua, Chinese, French, and more.

kl usfq registration

Experiential Learning / Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteering is an important part of our program. A majority of students in previous semesters have sought further integration in Ecuadorian life by volunteering in organizations dealing with issues of environmental protection, in women's shelters, orphanages, retirement homes, public schools and public hospitals. The Resident Director can advise you on finding volunteer positions. Please note that these positions are meant to enhance your study abroad experience; they are not granted academic credit and are un-paid. For volunteer opportunities, click here: Ecuador_Volunteer.pdf

Excursions to three to four points of interest outside of Quito are included in the program. Past excursions include a two-day trip to the traditional indigenous market at Otavalo and surrounding lakes and nature areas, a day trip to the Papallacta natural hot springs in the eastern cordillera of the Andes Mountains, and a weekend trip to Puerto Quito - a tropical rain forest located three hours from Quito. The diverse locations and environments you visit are sure to be unforgettable, and will get you started in exploring Ecuador on your own. The cost of transportation, lodging, and meals on these excursions is included in the program fee.

Tiputini Biodiversity Station, located at the heart of the Yasuní National Park in the Amazon Rainforest, is a favorite trip among students.  Built in one of the most pristine sections of rainforest in the world as a joint project by USFQ and a few U.S. universities, the station is only accessible by riverboat and houses researchers who need to get up close and personal to the wildlife.   The station also has cabins for visitors, and  every international student at USFQ has the opportunity to visit the unique research station for 4 days for an additional cost of about $400-$500 dollars.  Local guides and workers will take students along trails and in boats to get a look at tropical birds, insects, dolphins, and every animal you could imagine. Tiputini is famous for being the most biodiverse place in the world, but also for the oil reserves that lie below it and threaten its preservation.  Read about National Geographic's coverage of Tiputini here, and about USFQ's involvement here.

Onsite Support

Each Illinois Center has an onsite resident director whose purpose is to support you both inside and outside of the classroom during your time abroad.

Resident Director Profile

Maria Teresa Barragan, born in Riobamba, Ecudor, has been the Academic Director and RD of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito-Illinois Exchange program since 1994. As an adolescent, Maria lived and studied in Baltimore, Maryland for her high school years. After studying in the States, she returned to Ecuador and received a degree from the Universidad Catolica de Quito in linguistics and became an English teacher. She received a masters degree in Intercultural Education from Newport University in California years later. Outside of being the RD, she is the founder and now president (since 2005) of the Foundation FEVI (Foundation for Intercultural Education and  Volunteering). The foundation works with the education of children in marginal areas of Ecuador. Personally, she is married with 2 grown children: Jorge, who is 33 years old and lives in Switzerland, and Andres, who is 21 and lives and studies in Ecuador.

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Students will live with an Ecuadorian family carefully selected by the Resident Director, based on the preferences you express. Your homestay will introduce you to Ecuadorian society and culture, and help you improve your Spanish. Past participants often cite the home stay as the most beneficial and memorable aspect of their study abroad experience.

host fam street

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Returned Study Abroad Student Reflections

Scanned PA Sheets

To read past students reflection's on their time in Quito, click the link below. 
Quito PA Sheets.pdf

A Returnee's Experience

Contact former Study Abroad students
Having trouble deciding on a location? Unsure about what to pack, or which classes to take? Send an email to someone who has been there! Our returnees love talking about their time abroad, so send them an email!
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Additional Program Resources
Before You Leave

The Before You Leave section on our website provides you with information on what to pack, money abroad, transportation, communicating with family members while abroad, and even what to do the day of your departure.

Country videos


Check out our Flickr album of photos taken by students while abroad in Ecuador!

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Country links

Country CultureGram

CultureGrams are concise, reliable, and up-to-date information on more than 200 countries. They go beyond mere facts and figures and try to deliver an insider’s perspective on daily life and culture, including history, customs, and lifestyles of the country in mind. Visit Ecuador’s CultureGram here!
username: World
password: Verona

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Application Process


You need to have completed the equivalent of four college semesters of Spanish prior to your departure. At Illinois, Spanish 140, 141, 142, or 143 count as the fourth semester. If you have not taken any Spanish in college, you need to have completed four years of high school Spanish. If you are a heritage speaker of Spanish and have not taken a Spanish course(s), this program might be the perfect one for you -- please contact the Study Abroad Office to talk about your linguistic background and goals.

Dates and Deadlines

All requirements must be completed by the Study Abroad Office deadlines: online materials are due by 11:59 PM on the deadline date; paper materials are due by 4:45 PM the following business day. Preference will be given to students applying by the priority deadlines.
Spring Semester Programs
Priority Deadline: June 15
Final Deadline: September 15
Summer/Fall/Academic Year Programs
Priority Deadline: January 15
Final Deadline: February 15 

How to Apply

Please click the Create App button (found at the top-right of this page) to apply. Note that you will be charged a non-refundable $25 application fee by clicking Create App and logging in.
The USFQ, Ecuador application requires:

  • Official transcript
  • 1 letter of recommendation (must be from an academic advisor, TA, or professor but does not need to be from a Spanish instructor)
  • Personal essay in Spanish and in English
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Signature Verification Form
  • Online questionnaires
  • 2 Personal Photos

Additional information and supplemental application requirements will follow once you are accepted to the program.

 ecuador ecuador

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Contact Information
Anna Fairbairn
Advisor for Ecuador
Study Abroad Office (SAO)
910 South Fifth Street
112 International Studies Building
Champaign, IL 61820

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Program Cost and Advance Fees

For an Unofficial Budget of this program, please scroll to the top of this page and find the box labeled “Budget Sheets,” and click on the semester during which you want to participate. Please read through the Unofficial Budget information, which also includes information on Financial Aid and Scholarships.

All students should be aware that once they are accepted to a program, they will be charged a non-refundable $305 fee to reserve their place on the program.

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Financial Aid and Scholarships

Because this program is sponsored by the University of Illinois, financial aid can be applied to the cost of the program. The amount of financial aid that is applicable to study abroad will depend on your financial aid package. Since there are many variables that determine how your financial aid package applies to study abroad, it is best that you consult with a financial aid advisor in the Office of Student Financial Aid to discuss your individual financial aid package.

In addition to financial aid, there are other alternatives to funding your time abroad. Click hereto learn more about our over $850,000 in scholarship opportunities. One scholarship that everyone is eligible for is the Illinois for Illinois (I4I) Scholarship. For more information, click here

For more information about general costs, tips, and advice, please watch the First Steps Cost, Financial Aid, and Scholarship videos for tips and advice.

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Health, Safety and Pre-Departure

The health and safety of students abroad is something that the University of Illinois takes very seriously, which is why the Study Abroad Office provides services that range from international insurance coverage to a 24-hour phone line to speak to an Advisor on Duty. These services can be found on our website.

Pre-Departure Orientation

All students are required to attend an all-day Pre-Departure Orientation the semester before their term abroad. The exact date, time, and location will be given to students post-acceptance so that they can arrange for their attendance at this orientation. During this orientation, topics such as Culture Shock, health and safety scenarios, and other helpful pre-departure information will be presented. This is also a really great opportunity to talk about packing, meet other classmates on a program, and talk to returnees who have already been to the host country.

Additionally, students are required to sign off on a Health and Safety Orientation, and are encouraged to read through the Safety and Security section of our website which includes topics from road safety and keeping your valuables and money safe, to nontraditional student identities while abroad.

This link includes information on our 24-hour emergency service, health matters, insurance, and safety and security

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Passport/Visa Information

You must have a valid passport to participate on this program. If you do not already have a passport, or if it needs to be renewed, you must begin that process now, even before program acceptance.

You may also be required to get a visa for your program.  Please consult the host country’s consulate website or a visa agency to determine whether or not a visa is required to travel to your destination country or countries.

For additional information, please visit our Passport and Visa webpage.

3 MSID Ecuador 04 3

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Withdrawal, Change and Cancellation Policy

To withdraw, change, or cancel your participation in a study abroad program, please visit this link to view the Withdrawal and Refund Policy.

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Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring Semester 2014 09/15/2013 
Rolling Admission 01/04/2014 05/15/2014
Fall Semester 2014 02/15/2014 
02/15/2014 08/25/2014 12/17/2014
Academic Year 2014-2015 02/15/2014 
02/15/2014 08/25/2014 05/12/2015
Spring Semester 2015 09/15/2014 09/15/2014 01/13/2015 05/17/2015

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.

Indicates that deadline has passed